Saturday's Sentimental Snap Part of Blowout

Green Bay's Jeff Saturday, the NFC's backup center, snapped the ball to the AFC's Peyton Manning. With Saturday retiring, it was a special moment between longtime teammates. It was a highlight of the NFC's 62-35 victory over the AFC.

Before Jeff Saturday spent this season with the Green Bay Packers and Peyton Manning moved on to the Denver Broncos, Saturday spent most of his career snapping the ball to Manning in Indianapolis.


Jeff Saturday waves to the crowd.
Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports
Saturday did it one more time during the first quarter of Sunday's Pro Bowl in Honolulu.

Saturday, playing for the NFC team, momentarily jumped ship to the AFC team to snap the ball to Manning one more time. It was a fitting ending to Saturday's career, with the six-time Pro Bowler saying Sunday's game would be the final game of his career.

"After doing it that long with him, we figured it was our last run together, might as well get one more," Saturday said during a sideline interview. "That was something special I'll always remember."

As for the game, the NFC rolled 62-35. Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph was named MVP with five catches for 122 yards and one touchdown.

Josh Sitton joined Saturday as Packers players participating in the game — Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews skipped game due to injuries. The Packers coached the NFC squad.

The NFC was unstoppable on offense, with nearly each player putting up fantasy-worthy lines in limited play. The AFC, meanwhile, had five turnovers and scored most of its points well after the game was no longer competitive.

Houston's J.J. Watt, who had 20 1/2 sacks for Houston, lined up as a wide receiver on the AFC's third play from scrimmage, but missed a pass from Denver quarterback Peyton Manning. He was targeted one more time, but didn't make a catch.

He later showed a television camera a bloody left pinkie, joking with NBC telecasters that the players were trying.

"Hey, Commish, we're playing hard," Watt said as he showed his bloodied finger.


Jeff Saturday lines up in the AFC huddle. Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Roger Goodell has said the Pro Bowl won't be played again if play didn't improve this year. Last year, fans in Hawaii booed as lineman were clearly not trying. On one play in that game, Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen did a barrel roll to switch positions with a teammate.

If players were coasting this time around, it was less obvious. The AFC just played poorly. And fans didn't boo much — the stands were relatively empty even though the game sold enough tickets to lift a local television blackout.

In the second quarter, referee Ed Hochuli drew cheers when announcing a pass interference penalty on Denver cornerback Champ Bailey in the second quarter — the first flag of the game.

"Yes, there are penalties in the Pro Bowl," Hochuli said, drawing laughs and loud cheers.

Giants wideout Victor Cruz broke a Pro Bowl record with 10 catches. Tampa Bay receiver Vincent Jackson had 91 yards and two touchdowns. Eli Manning, who also took snaps from Saturday, threw for 191 yards and two touchdowns, while Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson had three touchdown passes in the second half.

Cincinnati's A.J. Green had three TD catches for the AFC.

NFL officials said earlier in the week that the league wants to decide the future of the Pro Bowl by the time next season's schedule is released in April.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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